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"I repeat again that I stand on the platform of our party: 'We will not participate in foreign wars and we will not send our army, naval, or air force to fight in foreign lands outside the Americas except in case of attack." So said Franklin Roosevelt on the eve of his election to a third term. That sentiment was a plank in the personal platform of almost every voter on November 4; there can be no doubt that "short of war" expressed the will of John Doe and family. It is this fact which makes the current furore over the Ellender Amendment to the Lease-Lend Bill seem a little incongruous, and also just a little alarming. The amendment rules out presidential power to use army, naval, or air forces anywhere except in the Western Hemisphere or U. S. possessions.
Inclusion of the Ellender Amendment would in no way handicap the Administration's program of economic war against fascism. There has been no satisfactory explanation as to why it has become the object of violent debate instead of being accepted at once. Administration supporters have been suspiciously evasive, and the only audible objection they have made is that it will "tie our hands" in helping Britain. It will not tie our hands unless we are planning to enter the war in a military sense. It will not stop or slow up the flow of materials so vital to the defense of democracy. It will, however, leave the power of declaring total war where it ought to be--in the hands of the people's representatives in Congress. It will also remove the fears of many citizens that H.R. 1776 is a "war" bill.
Great centralization of powers is an unfortunate necessity of our emergency. The Lease-Lend Bill embodies powers which the people believe will be relinquished when the emergency is over; they believe in other words, that while Mr. Roosevelt may become a sort of dictator, as his opponents claim, he will be a benevolent and a temporary one. But the Ellender controversy suggests a trait in the President which is universally despised as a characteristic of Adolf Hitler: the failure to keep one's promises. If the campaign promise was sincere, there is no reason why it should be excluded from the Bill now. Its rejection would be a sinister tendency toward Hitlerism in America and a slap in the face to democracy.
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